There is so much more to New Orleans than the French Quarter, and yet many travelers spend all their time in that one section of town. The places in this post were my favorites in New Orleans. If you go, don’t miss these spots.
The Garden District
Despite the name, I didn’t view any gardens. However, here are the grand homes of the rich and famous. My first night in New Orleans, I stayed in the Garden District at the historic Magnolia Mansion. The mansion was built in 1857-1858 and remains as beautiful today as it was originally.
A block over is a main roadway, St. Charles Avenue. It’s a short walk from the mansion to several local eateries. I went to The Blind Pelican and enjoyed it so much, I went back a few times during my visit. This area seemed to be the place for locals, rather than tourists, to enjoy walking around and perhaps stopping in for a drink somewhere. The atmosphere was low-key, relaxed, comfortable; a complete contrast to the wild madness of Bourbon Street, and the crowded street-fair feeling of the French Quarter in general.
Yes, the Garden District suited me much better.
A local I chatted with recommended the Commander’s Palace Restaurant for lunch. He stressed the dress code, and I’m glad he did. Business attire is preferred at this beautiful restaurant. So, put on your nice clothes and go get a wonderful, upper-scale meal during your New Orleans trip. The food was fantastic and the service was well above par.
Across the street from the restaurant lies Lafayette Cemetery. It’s another of the obligatory stops in New Orleans; and pretty neat. I only spent a few minutes there, however, because there were so many other adventures to be had.
From the cemetery, I followed a self-guided walking tour of the Garden District. I ended up behind an actual tour a few times, so I overheard some of the information from the guide. The tour went past homes owned or previously owned by actors, novelists, politicians, and non-famous folk who must be pretty interesting.
Travel Tip: If you’re a lady like me, and wear dress shoes for your nice lunch at Commander’s Palace, drop a pair of flats in your purse. They will come in handy when you’re heading out on the walking tour. The sidewalks in many places of New Orleans are uneven, broken, and simply hazardous. Dangerous, in spots, for anyone. A nightmare for someone in heels.
Other Places to Visit
I needed a slow-paced, quiet afternoon and found the perfect place for it: The Audubon Zoo. Strolling around the animals is quite calming, especially when you’re able to break away from work for a few hours on a weekday.
Another fantastic spot is the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium. I had the luxury of visiting for a private work-related event, but I think I would have still enjoyed it if I had just visited during normal hours. However, I’ll admit, I love anything to do with butterflies.
If you search around New Orleans and the surrounding area, you’ll find hidden gems, local spots, and renowned attractions for any interest. Especially when you decide to explore beyond the French Quarter.